Reports have Nuggets, Knicks haggling over Mozgov, ‘Melo trade details

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It’s near the endgame — Carmelo Anthony himself said after the All-Star Game Sunday “The deadline is Thursday. Something has to happen” (via Ken Berger of CBSSports).

But still the Knicks and Nuggets are fighting over the details right up to the end.

Alan Hahn of Newsday had the conflicting reports. That starts with earlier in the day the Knicks drawing a line in the sand — they were not moving off their last offer. That trade was Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry (and his amazing expiring contract) plus one first-round pick for Anthony, Chauncey Billups and filler.

Then later during the All-Star Game Hahn tweeted that a source told him Denver said Timofey Mozgov had to be added to the deal or the Nuggets would trade Anthony to the Nets.

Anthony met with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov Saturday and earlier reports are the Nets left that meeting thinking Anthony would not sign an extension with them. But after the game Anthony sounded more upbeat, at least from what he told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (on twitter).

“It was interesting. I got a chance to meet him. I was just listening. I didn’t give them a definitive answer… “They were talking and I was listening. …I’m not going to sit here and discuss the selling points.”

Anthony said he did not “close the door” on the Nets after the game. That doesn’t mean the Nets feel good about all this. When asked by an Associated Press reporter about ‘Melo at the All-Star Game Prokhorov said, “I don’t care.” It’s long been known the Nets were not going to trade for him without the extension. Not closing the door is not saying yes.

It still looks like the Knicks and Nuggets will come to a deal. Eventually. On one hand, it’s hard to see the Knicks losing this deal over Mozgov. On the other hand, Denver can’t walk away with nothing, they have no other good options, they need to make a deal.

That deal may take a few days, Anthony said post game that no deal was set up that he knew about. He may play for the Nuggets Tuesday night.

But Anthony wasn’t saying much else. TNT’s Craig Sager and his purple suit tried to talk to Anthony about it during the game but got shot down, with Kobe even stepping in to protect Anthony from more questions.

Amar’e Stoudemore said after the All-Star Game he just wants to focus on his team and not get caught up in the Melodrama.

“It’s going to be a tough 28 games left for the year,” Stoudemire said. “I just don’t want my guys to get distracted with all the rumors.”

That will be hard. But at least he won’t have to do it much longer.

Rajon Rondo says he will not play in Game 5, doesn’t sound optimistic about quick return

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He tried. Rajon Rondo has seen the Chicago Bulls struggle the last two games without him as a strong defender and stabilizing influence at point guard — something nobody thought Rondo would be mid-season — and he wanted to get back on the court for Game 5 against the Celtics. He took some steps toward getting ready to play.

But it’s not happening, Rondo said at shootaround Wednesday. From Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com and K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

And it’s not just the fractured thumb.

If the Bulls are going to win this series, they are going to have to do it without Rondo.

Isaiah Canaan will get the start in Game 5, and he will set a lot of screens in a 1/3 pick-and-roll to try and get Isaiah Thomas switched on to Jimmy Butler. Canaan can do that. He had fallen way out of the rotation and is really a two-guard not a point, but with the terrible play of Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams, coach Fred Hoiberg took a gamble. It worked, at least for one game. Canaan with the other four Bulls starters — Butler, Dwyane Wade, Nikola Mirotic, and Robin Lopez — were +12 in 11 minutes together in Game 4, and played well on both ends of the court. But Canaan was buried on the bench for a reason, he shot 36.4 percent on the season, 26.6 percent from three, and he’s not a great defender. The Celtics will be prepared for him in Game 5.

Hoiberg’s best option is to lean on a no point guard lineup when it matters most, with three wings who can handle the ball in Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and probably Denzel Valentine. That could be a challenging defensive lineup and Boston will try to get the lightning quick Isaiah Thomas switched onto Wade or Valentine (neither of which can guard him). Also, this lineup would be draining and put a big load on Butler, but he could handle it for critical stretches of the game.

Cleveland OKs last chunk of financing to upgrade Cavs’ arena

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland officials have committed the final chunk of financing for $140 million in upgrades planned at the Cavaliers’ home arena.

The makeover of Quicken Loans Arena would include more space for dining and gathering.

The cost of renovations to the concert and sports venue is being split by the city, the team, Cuyahoga County, and a convention and visitors bureau. The final total is expected to be roughly double the initial $140 million price tag, mostly because of interest over the next two decades.

Cleveland’s share is an estimated $88 million over 11 years, starting in 2024. Mayor Frank Jackson signed off on that Tuesday.

The county already approved the deal and agreed to sell bonds for the project.

The team committed to extend its lease at the arena to 2034. It is expected the team will make a bid to host the NBA All-Star game once renovations are complete.

Did Russell Westbrook really block a teammates shot to get ball back during Game 5?

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Well, this video plays right into the hands of the anti-Westbrook crowd.

The knock on Russell Westbrook‘s season-long triple double and MVP candidacy is that he is chasing stats, padding his numbers at the expense of efficiency and making the Thunder a better team. Basically, he’s looking out for himself and to heck with his teammates.

Which leads to this fourth-quarter video from Game 5.

It sure looks like Westbrook blocks Jerami Grant‘s shot to get the rebound (we only have the one camera angle here).

I would argue that this was just Westbrook being uber aggressive — the only way he ever plays — and he was going hard for the rebound and not noticing it was his teammate about to get the ball. Westbrook just wants the ball and gets it. But he also wants to win and would not have taken the ball out of Grant’s hands had he seen who it was in time to react.

Game 5 — where the Rockets eliminated the Thunder — was a microcosm of the Westbrook debate. Westbrook finished with 47 points on 15-of-34 shooting, but was 2-of-11 in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City was +12 in the 41:52 that Westbrook played, but was -18 in the 6:07 he sat. You can read whatever you want into those numbers.

Much like the video above.

Former Pacers’ star Danny Granger on Paul George: “you can’t fault him if he leaves Indiana”

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There was a time when Paul George was an up-and-coming but raw young player on an Indiana team led by Danny Granger. It was when Granger went down injured that George was thrust into a larger role, where he thrived in the trial by fire.

Granger knows what it’s like to be the star player of the Pacers, and he knows George, so on Bill Reiter asked Granger his thoughts during an episode of CBS’ “Reiter Than You” and Granger’s answer was not what Pacers fans wanted to hear.

“You look at him in that press conference (after losing to Cleveland) and his face and the dejection on it – the guy wants to win. Money don’t make everybody happy, but winning and success and your craft, that does fill a void that a lot of these players have. So you can’t fault him if he leaves Indiana, I’ll tell you that.”

Oh, Pacers fans will fault him. Even if he’s traded.

Pacers’ decision maker Larry Bird isn’t going to do anything until he sees if George makes an All-NBA Team, because if he does Indiana can offer him the new “designated player” contract this summer worth around $80 million more guaranteed than any other team can offer. George will not walk away from that.

However, if, as expected, George doesn’t make an All-NBA team, Bird is going to have to revisit the idea of trading George, who can be a free agent in 2018 — and the sense around the league is he will walk away at that point if the Pacers are not contenders. (There are a lot of Lakers’ rumors there, but whether George would leave a team where he is dragging lesser players to a low playoff seed and a first-round exit in Indiana for the same situation in his old hometown is up for debate.)

Bird isn’t going to deal George for pennies on the dollar at this point — think the Kings’ trading DeMarcus Cousins — but if some team comes through with a legitimate quality offer of young players that can help jump start the rebuild in Indiana, he may have to jump at it.

Either way, Granger is right that you can’t blame George for wanting to move on, but plenty of fans will anyway.